by Rachel L. Richardson

Advancing the VWC

A founder of and key contributor to the Valbridge Women’s Council (VWC), Ellen Gillette retired in October, leaving her role as USPS Contract Administrator with the Valbridge Property Advisors | Baltimore Washington Metro office.

Because she’s played such an active role in the VWC, upon her retirement, the Women’s Council made a donation in Gillette’s honor to Comfort Cases, a nonprofit she supported through the VWC Community Involvement Committee.

Donna Brooks, Office Manager/HR with the Baltimore office, recalls how Gillette was their first employee when they opened that branch in 2016—as a trained architect, Gillette was tasked with the design of their new office space.

Gillette, Brooks adds, “is a good friend and a caring person, beloved and admired by all. Any task she takes on or cause she supports benefits immeasurably from her sunny optimism, strong work ethic, and considerable leadership skills.”

A former VWC President and Chief Operating Officer based in the Kansas City office, Joanne Montgomery is grateful for Gillette’s role in the VWC, saying, “I appreciate [her] wise counsel and thoughtful approach to situations… I was fortunate to have her on the leadership team.”


  • Ellen Gillette worked as the USPS Contract Administrator with the Baltimore office for seven years before her retirement in October.
  • She has been actively involved in the Valbridge Women’s Council since its inception and encouraged others to participate in the group and grow in leadership.
  • The VWC donated to Comfort Cases on her behalf, in acknowledgment of her contributions to the group and her efforts while on the Community Involvement Committee.
  • Gillette has had a positive impact on colleagues across the company who share their appreciation for her and her work. and wish her the best in this new chapter.

Gillette is leaving “big, big shoes to fill!” says Michele Wood, also a former VWC President, and the Vice President of Professional Development with the Valbridge Property Advisors offices serving Kansas City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Indianapolis, Fargo, St. Louis, and Portland. “She was one of the most important founders of VWC and it would not be the strong organization that it is today without her.”

“I hear the same about her from those that depended on her to run the national USPS account,” Wood adds. “She will be sorely missed.”

Administering the USPS Contract

Image: Word Cloud depicting descriptions of Gillette provided by the members of Team Blue quoted in this post.

Many in Team Blue shared that they knew Gillette through the VWC or through her work managing the USPS appraisal contract, coordinating communications between USPS officers, appraisal reviewers, and Valbridge appraisers across the nation.

“Her ‘point of contact’ work was exceptional!” says Mary Young, an Administrative Assistant with Valbridge Property Advisors | Utah County who learned from Gillette how to submit post office reports. “I am so glad,” says Young, “to have had the opportunity to work with [Gillette].”

Gillette was adept at her work and unafraid to stretch and try things outside her comfort zone, says Cindy Cortes, Director of Operations with the Houston office.

“She was always willing to jump in and help answer any questions—no matter how big or small,” said Gayle Preuss, Office Manager with the Chicago office.

S. Steven Vitale, MAI, SGA, and Senior Managing Director of the Milwaukee office, values her patience, sensitivity, and the calmness she would bring to challenging circumstances.

“She was a shining light that would give you hope you could get through—whatever the issues were,” Vitale said.

“I wish I was more like [Gillette],” says Dana Richardson, a Senior Appraiser with the Memphis office, who describes Gilette as an excellent communicator, a good listener, down-to-earth, patient, and diligent in her efforts to help. On Gillette’s management of the USPS contract, Richardson adds: “She was clearly the right person for the USPS job within Valbridge.”

Serving the Community and Team Blue

As an active member of the VWC and its Community Involvement and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committees, Gillette was a key contributor to several fundraising campaigns—supporting Ukrainians after the start of the war and foster care children through the Comfort Cases drive.

Ben Long, an Executive Director based in the Indianapolis office, describes Gillette as “extremely thoughtful and supportive of everyone around her.” She “helps empower everyone to be the best version of themselves.”

“My favorite memory [of Gillette] is working with her on the Comfort Cases donation drive,” Wood shares. “Her passion, tireless energy, and commitment to that effort was so fun to be a part of and I truly enjoyed every minute with her.”

Similarly, as an Appraisal Analyst with the San Jose office who emigrated from Ukraine many years ago, Yulia Ferguson is especially grateful for Gillette’s contribution to the project in support of Ukraine. Gillette, she says, “contributed to making the community better by helping others, showing kindness, and working to solve problems.”

“[Gillette] is passionate about making the world a better place,” Montgomery affirmed. “She doesn’t sit on the sidelines but is always willing to get in and help where she can.”

“VWC was a great way to socialize and stay connected during COVID—” Montgomery adds “—there were so many calls where I had the opportunity to laugh and visit with her.”

“She helped us celebrate life through the COVID storm,” agrees Jeff Miller, MAI, AI-GRS, and Senior Managing Director with the Atlanta office. She “brought love and thoughtfulness to a busy analytical group.”

“[Gillette] always had wonderful ideas and energy for both her work and the volunteering she did with VWC,” Wood remarks. “More than that, she was always a strong supporter of other people’s ideas and a consistent source of support for bringing in new people to VWC and encouraging their leadership.”

“Anyone who got to cross paths with [Gillette] should count themselves very blessed,” Wood says. She “is someone that leaves every room better than when she got there. I wish her every happiness as she goes into this new chapter in her life.”

From all in Team Blue who were positively impacted by Gillette’s professionalism, gracious spirit, wisdom, and joy—Ellen, we are grateful for you and wish you a happy and healthy retirement!